Beyond make-up tips, hairstyle changes, makeovers, a new wardrobe, when it comes to being an attractive person inside and out, often a key ingredient is confidence. Not to be confused with arrogance, confidence is simply being comfortable with one's own skin and fully accepting of oneself. It is a belief that only certain physical attributes are required to be confident in one's looks. However, just because one believes such a concept doesn't make it true except for that person. For Catherine Storing, a stylist who emphasizes confidence coaching, the first step in revealing to her clients their real beauty, is confidence. Catherine explains how in the following Q&A.
Confidence has become a catch phrase and image makeover stylists are everywhere. Tell me the real reason why you do what you do?
Confidence affects so many aspects of a person's life, and growing up I did not know that. Once I realized how important it was and how it affected how I made decisions in my life, I was able to make smarter decisions.
I help women with their confidence through style because I see how it affects their careers, personal and professional relationships. They stop doubting themselves and what they are able to do.
The Ugly Duckling experience is more common than the “Born Beautiful” one. In particular, for those women who grew up looking far from the ideal, you have a personal and professional connection with working to bring out their “Inner Swan”. Tell me more about this?
What a great question, I was an ugly duckling myself, I was told with words and verbal cues that I was not pretty. For years I battled with low self esteemed and lack of confidence. Once I was able to accept myself as I was, my "true beauty" came out. The funny thing is that nothing changed on the outside, just my inner confidence. People tell me all the time, even those that did not appreciate how I looked before tell me how pretty I am.
What are the fundamentals of dressing for one’s shape? Body types are distinct from person to person. How do you advise women to dress best based on their proportions?
Women come in all shapes and sizes, the first thing to do is to accept one's body shape, for years I hated that my hips were so small, once I accepted that fact, I was able to appreciate my body and dress in ways that highlight my figure.
I take women to stores that carry clothes for their body type, there is no point in going to a petite store if they are plus size, the clothes wont fit and they will leave the store in tears. One of the many benefits of working with a stylist is that they know where to take their clients, where to look for the right items, and for clothes that complement the client's life style.
How does facilitating a person in finding their best style and presenting themselves in their best way help bring about real confidence over time? Looks aren’t everything but they can play a role in self-image. Why do you think that is based on your experiences working with people?
Looks are not everything, but how you dress yourself on the outside lets others know how you feel about yourself on the inside. I always say, if you feel comfortable, you will feel confident. I tell my clients to dress carefully when they have import meetings or life events, that way they can concentrate on what matters and not worry about their clothes been too tight or inappropriate.
Tell me more about the passion and compassion you have for those whose self-images were impacted by mass media and/or societal messages that they would never be as beautiful as the “Western ideal” growing up?
I am very familiar with not looking like the "rest of the normal people" I grew up in the Caribbean, where women have hourglass shaped bodies and were hair is worn straight. I had a problem with people telling me that I had to look like everybody else.
We were created differently for a reason, why would anyone want to fit it, when they can stand out? If one has low self esteem they will not be able to stand up for themselves or dared to be different. I love when I work with your everybody woman, because after we work together, shop for the right clothes and do the inner work, they realize that there is nothing average above her, that she is as beautiful as any other woman. The only thing that changes is that she sees herself for the first time, beautifully.
Could you please share your own personal story on how you learned to be immune to the messages from the media about who was beautiful and acceptable based on a type of Western physical appearance?
Of course, I worked on self acceptance and understanding that my worth does not come from anybody else's opinion. Once I learned to love my hair, my lanky legs and small hips, I was able to see me as I was, created with a purpose, for a purpose. I learned how to dress my body, how to take care of my hair and to be comfortable in m own skin. Even now when people make comments like: wow your legs are so skinny. I just smile and say, I know, right. Thank You. The look on their faces is priceless because they cannot understand why I took their mean comment as a compliment. I will not lie, comments like that used to bother me, but once I learned to love me as I was, their comments lost their power over me.
How come you say you are able to find beauty in others that they can’t see in themselves?
Because that's what I had to do for myself, to look deep, to really look. Once I saw my own inner beauty, I learned how to bring it out via my attitude, how I think, how I dress. Now i do that for others, and it is beautiful to see them see it for the first time, its like they recognize a part of themselves they knew existed but did not know how to bring out.
Something you have noticed is that although diversity in beauty seems more prevalent in advertising these days compared to decades past, there is still a lot of self-hate out there. What do you mean by this and how is your stylist approach a response to this phenomenon?
That is so true, self hate is just another way of not loving yourself, not been happy with the way you were created. a person that does accept who they are, is not able to love and accept others as they are. That is why there are so many people that hate others base on how they look on the outside, because they hate how they look, its called projecting: I hate myself, therefore I am going to make you feel bad about how you look. Its crazy, but sadly true.
You still have a full-time career, are a mother, and still find the time to build and grow your styling practice. Eventually you plan to use your company ventures to go back to minister to Dominicans and Haitians. Tell me more about this.
That is the driving force what I do. When others ask me how I do all that I do, that is what I tell them. I need to go back, I need to help my brothers and sisters, see there is a LOT of self hate there. A lot of animosity and I believe I can help. I want to go back, build clothing factory where Haitians and Dominicans can work together, creating beautiful Caribbean themed clothing. First taking care of their physical needs by creating jobs and two helping them to love themselves and accept their own diversity and the diversity of others. When that day comes, it will be the beginning of healing and self acceptance, a beautiful day.
What else are you planning to bring and launch to your key audience and market in the next year that they can look forward to?
Right now I am working with a matchmaker, we are putting together a 12 week program for Godly women looking for Godly men. Together we will help them how to date, how to dress and how to overhaul their confidence. I am also working on launching group programs where woman can mastermind, support one and another and grow while looking stylishly fabulous.